Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has warned Greece not to try the country’s patience amid fresh tension between the two countries over remarks by Greek Foreign Minister NicosKotzias, which he described as “provocative.” Çavuşoğlu’s remarks follow the latest row between himself and his Greek counterpart, who previously criticized the Turkish top brass’ visit to the long-disputed Kardak islets in the Aegean Sea. He also advised Kotzias to closely follow developments from Turkey in its fight against terror inside the country and abroad and not to mistake the abilities of the Turkish Armed Forces. The islets, named Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish, are two small uninhabited rocks in the Aegean Sea, situated between the Greek island chain of the Dodecanese and the southwestern mainland coast of Turkey. The two countries nearly went to war over the islets in 1996 in an escalation that resulted in both sides landing soldiers on an islet each. The minister also refuted claims that Ankara wanted to benefit from Athens’ economic weakness, noting that the country encouraged millions of Turks to visit Greece every year and also limited its activities in the Aegean for years despite all kinds of provocation. The number of Turkish citizens who have illegally entered Greece since the attempted takeover now stands at 100, including the eight ex-soldiers who fled to the country in a stolen helicopter hours after orchestrating the coup and requested asylum. Ankara has repeatedly requested the extradition of the eight men, promising they would get fair trials upon return. However, the Greek Supreme Court ruled against their extradition in January
The strategic hills overlooking the northern Syrian town of al-Bab were captured by the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), clashes have resumed for the town’s full control, the Turkish military said in a statement on Wednesday. Speaking at a press conference in capital Ankara, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said that the FSA have surrounded Al-Bab on all sides and clashes resume for full control of town. He added that coordination with U.S.-led coalition and Russia prevents possible clashes with Assad forces as their troops move closer to al-Bab from southeast. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu said yesterday that Turkey and other regional powers should provide special forces troops for the eventual assault on Daesh’s Syrian stronghold, the city of Raqqa.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says a cease-fire in Syria should not cover terrorist groups like the Islamic State group and the Fatah al-Sham Front, as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah which fights on the government side. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who chaired Tuesday’s talks, did not openly disagree with Cavusoglu. But he mentioned that some groups operating in Syria “were invited by the government of Bashar Assad,” implying that Hezbollah’s presence in Syria is as legitimate as Russia’s own role. The Iranian Minister said that Iran “respects” Turkey’s stance, but added that “other countries don’t accept” it.